If you are fed up with dragging the vacuum cleaner out of the cupboard every few days and pushing it around the house, then you may well have considered the idea of robot vacuums. These little devices take much of the hassle out of floor cleaning, and their capabilities are only limited by the budget you have in mind. At the top end, there are even automatic cleaners that can empty themselves for a truly independent cleaning experience. There are so many different options and features that it can be overwhelming for anyone that has never used a robot vacuum before. However, they are easy enough to compare, and we are going to look at which features matter and why.
1. Your Floor Type Matters
Different brands put different technology in their robot vacuums, and this dictates which surfaces they are comfortable with. If you have hard floors and thin carpets throughout the home, then the world is your oyster, and any robot vacuum that isn’t complete junk should be capable of providing the perfect clean. The thicker your carpets get, the stronger the robot vacuum needs to be for effective cleaning, and the more expensive it will become.
2. Think About Mapping and Directions
If you have used a lower-end or even mid-range robot vacuum before, you’ll know that there is not much of a method to their cleaning patterns. They travel across the floor, picking up dirt as they go, and when they run into an object, they will stop and change direction. It might not be the most efficient path to travel, but it does the trick. As you rise through price ranges, more mapping becomes available. Some robot vacuums have cameras attached so they can literally ‘see’ where they are going, while others will follow patterns that you draw in their mobile apps.
3. Consider Who Produces the Mess
If you live alone or with a partner, the bulk of the mess on the floor will consist of day-to-day dust and maybe a few crumbs. Any robot vacuum worthy of the name will be more than capable of picking this up. Introduce children and pets into the mix, and your requirements will go up. For the former, fancy brushes, increased suction and even carpet shampooing are all considerations. For the latter, the same applies, and there are even dedicated pet special edition models out there that have been designed with pet hair in mind.
4. Check the Filters
Different manufacturers use different filters for their robot vacuums, and this can have an impact not only on cleaning, but also air quality. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a robotic cleaner with no filters at all, and the majority go for 2. The first is the all-purpose filter, which ensures that dirt does not fall out again once collected and is instead safely trapped in the dust box. The second is for smaller particles. You may want HEPA filters if you suffer from allergies, but there are other, cheaper options out there.
5. Familiarise Yourself with the Controls
It is worth taking the time to see how your robot vacuum turns on before you make a purchase. Some have buttons on the unit itself, while others come with a remote control. As you rise through the price points, you’ll find ones that can be activated with a mobile app and even units that can be controlled with your voice – more on them later.
6. Batteries Vary
All robot vacuums are cordless for obvious reasons, and so they rely on their battery to propel them around the home. As smartphone owners now, batteries have started to become a limiting factor, and we cannot see robot cleaners being the catalyst for change. Nevertheless, there are options. As you’d expect, every battery is capable of keeping the model using it going, but both charge and cleaning times are worth considering when comparing different models side by side.
7. Talk to Your Vacuum Cleaner
That is not suggesting that you act crazy – some robot vacuums really can be started, stopped and paused with your voice. This is achieved through Amazon Alexa and Google Home compatibility, and any model that works with one will almost definitely work with the other. Use your smart speaker or mobile device as you would for any other voice request, and you can have your cleaner getting to work without lifting a finger.
8. Get the Right Capacity for Your Home
The average robot vacuum can store 0.6 litres of dirt in their boxes and will need emptying when they reach capacity. Cheaper models are smaller, while more expensive ones can hold more. Unless you go for the truly top end of these devices, you will need to empty them at some point and will need to consider whether you would prefer multiple cleans before this becomes necessary. At the very least, you want a model that will finish the job at hand before heading back to base because it cannot hold any more.
9. Virtual Walls and Guides
Every robot vacuum knows to try something else when it hits a wall, but some make use of specially designed virtual walls to decide where they can and cannot go. The hardware varies – some robot vacuums use laser devices that shoot barriers through the air, while others make use of tape that sticks to the floor. Either way, when the robot vacuum encounters one of these virtual barriers, they will act like they would if they had hit a wall and go elsewhere.
10. Have a Budget in Mind
The price difference between the cheapest robot vacuums and the most expensive is more significant than you might think, and you will generally get what you pay for. If you can go through these tips and decide which features you need and which you can do without, you’ll stand the best chance of getting the ideal value for money.